The robot has come a long way since the days of performing spot welds on the automotive assembly line. Its early success led manufacturers to wonder how robotics automation could improve other product lines. Today, we find robots performing a variety of tasks including picking, packaging and assembly, creating benefits for everyone including workers.
Certainly, companies incorporating robotics into a manufacturing process benefit on many levels that all lead to savings and a healthier bottom line. These savings show up in many forms such as:
- Lower operations cost: Robotics do not have the same requirements for lighting or heat human workers have. This offers a potential to save up to 20% on utility costs.
- Improved and consistent quality: Robots perform repetitive tasks without tiring. These machines are impervious to boredom and distraction, meaning the high quality achieved in the first product on the line is consistent through the entire production run.
- Reduced scrap: Because quality is maintained throughout the production run, the amount of inconsistencies is less creating fewer wasted materials.
- High levels of productivity: Aside from maintenance, robotics offer the capability of running 24/7 with no vacation or sick days.
With all the benefits of incorporating robotics into a manufacturing operation, one could easily assume employees feel threatened by automation. This may have been the case when robots first appeared on the scene. This is no longer the case.
Benefits from Robotics
According to industry experts, workers continue to benefit from increased robotic automation on many levels. Many of the functions performed by robots remove humans from hazardous situations. Robots can work in confined spaces, unhealthy environments or dangerous settings without fear of problems. The same is true for functions requiring repetitive actions. Allowing robots to do this work eliminates musculoskeletal injuries, saving workers (and companies) from expensive medical bills, time off because of injury, and the need to replace injured workers.
Furthermore, robotics also benefit workers who must still do jobs requiring the human touch. Fatigue is a major cause of injury in work settings. As fatigue sets in, worker efficiency decreases while the potential for injury increases. The use of wearable electronics technology helps identify potentially hazardous conditions caused by fatigue by monitoring everything from a worker’s eye closure, heart rate and muscle activity. Should any problems arise, a signal is sent notifying a supervisor, allowing for preventive action before the issue escalates.
Mutual Relationship with Automation
The concern of most workers is having their jobs taken by robots. While some jobs may be better suited for robotics based upon safety and ergonomic concerns, many industry experts view robotics as a job creation opportunity. According to Jeff Burnstein, president of the Association for Advancing Automation, the robotics industry will create up to 1.5 million jobs through 2016.
Adhering to sanitary requirements used to be a roadblock for implementing robotics. Food packaging requires direct contact with food items. This frequently posed a problem for robotics because of the many exposed tubes/pipes in most robotic arms. New designs featuring a closed-structure have eliminated sanitary concerns allowing robotic automation to gain an increasing role in food and pharmaceutical production.
Robotics automation continues to find new opportunities in many industries as the technology continues to improve. Learn how your industry can benefit from robotics by contacting us today.